Thursday, February 09, 2006
BHM 9: Killer Croc
Yes, Killer Croc is black. Don't feel bad if you didn't know. A lot of people don't know, and others have simply forgotten.
That's because of Waylon's skin condition. Yes, Waylon Jones. Killer Croc has a real name, not that anyone writing in the last 10 or 15 years can be bothered to remember it.
At one time, he was a black guy, with a rough upbringing due a skin condition that made him a "crococile boy" sideshow freak, who eventually turned to crime. He wasn't a nice person, but he was a person.
He was more than just a thug, too. In fact, after he was introduced as a gangland enforcer he rose to become a big Gotham ganglord; he was the Black Mask of his day. He was clearly in the Gotham tradition of tortured soul turned to a depraved life, like many a great villain.
Then writers got lazy. His teeth got pointy. He got stupid. He started living in sewers. He started eating people (blech). All attempts at portraying him as a fallen person -- or a person at all -- were abandoned. He devolved (as Devon of Seven Hells well described it) into a Spider-Man animal of the month villain.
I really don't want to think that black characters are more likely than others to be used or suffer changes in a way that obscures their race to the reader. But things like What's Happened to Croc really give me pause... .